The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items could vary, as could the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest, or from this week. The important thing is that it’s Friday, and we are here to have some fun.
ITEM NUMBER ONE — A silver lining
Good news and bad news, everyone. Bad news first: Things aren’t great! There’s a pandemic crisscrossing the globe and everything is canceled and you are being strongly advised by smart people with stethoscopes to stay home and away from other humans to whatever degree you can. Grocery stores are madhouses, vultures are buying up hand sanitizer and trying to resell it for hundreds of dollars per bottle, someone might get shanked over a roll of toilet paper. And it looks like it’s going to stay this way for a few more weeks.
Which brings us to the good news: At least now you have time to finally watch Zoo, my beloved “the animals of the world lead a revolution against the human race thanks to mutation and bloodlust” CBS series. It aired for three seasons and all three seasons are on Netflix and it is the single wildest show I have ever seen by a factor of 10, which is really saying something because I recently watched an episode of television that featured an exploding bull semen warehouse.
How do I describe Zoo? How can anyone? When the show started, it followed renegade zoologist Jackson Oz (played by Prince of Television James Wolk, perhaps best known as Bob Benson from Mad Men) and his team of animal experts, drunken veterinarians, and French spies as they attempted to figure out why all the world’s animals were suddenly on the attack. The very first episode featured this line of dialogue, which is still the single greatest line of dialogue I have ever seen on any television show or in any movie. Behold:
Man, you thought we had problems. Really puts the toilet paper thing in perspective.
Against truly staggering odds, it got even better and weirder as it progressed. There was a prison break orchestrated by wild wolves. Electrocharged super-ants banded together to try to blow up most of Switzerland. An adorable Jack Russell terrier lured a family into a Slovenian warehouse filled with bigger dogs that tore a man to shreds. Someone stole a zebra. Millions of rats stormed the beaches of Massachusetts and were only stopped when the French spy — the person in the GIF up there, who already had a lot going on — took a flamethrower to them in an abandoned hotel. This is all still in the first season. As is this, which is easily my favorite moment of television from the last decade and maybe ever:
To be clear, that is renegade zoologist Jackson Oz backhanding an evil four-star general while demanding to know the location of a sloth that can shriek with enough force to cause an earthquake. Does your favorite show feature a renegade zoologist slapping an evil four-star general while shouting “WHERE’S THE SLOTH?” I bet it doesn’t. Unless your favorite show is Zoo. Which means we are best friends, possibly brothers.
And guess what: It kept getting weirder and wilder. There was a giant invisible snake. The human race got sterilized. Tokyo got wiped off the map entirely. I could sit here and list crazy stuff that happened on Zoo for hours, and I would if I didn’t want to leave some surprises for you. Wait until you see the plane the team flies around in. It was provided by the defense department and features every scientific tool and chemical you can imagine and also a fully-stocked bar that never runs out of alcohol even as the team jets around the world during a global catastrophe that sometimes requires them to heave a car into an active volcano.
It is a beautiful show that never once lets reason and logic get in the way of doing the craziest thing it can think of. It is an absolute blast to watch. Your jaw will be hanging open through half of it. One of the characters starts as a blogger and eventually becomes a billionaire author who fights crime at night in leather pants. Another one has a secret sister who tries to shoot the plane out of the sky with a bazooka. The third season ends on the craziest cliffhanger you can possibly imagine and it will never be paid off because the show was canceled and, honestly, it’s perfect. That is exactly how a show this bonkers should have ended, with chaos and rubble and mass confusion.
To be fair, I always tell people to watch Zoo, mostly so I have other people to talk about it with. But this time I really mean it. The show is a total escape, a journey into unhinged madness that is both fun and freeing. You need that right now. You sure as hell don’t need some bleak drama about, like, murdered children. Let the electrocharged ants soothe you. Watch Zoo. Go in expecting anarchy and be amazed that it exceeds your expectations. Enjoy the diversion. Let yourself soak it all in. Live inside the flames.
There has never been a better time to watch Zoo. Join me.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — Okay, but at least explain the Han thing to me
Again, this is very serious now. It was serious before, too. In the last week or so we’ve seen a slew of events and premieres get canceled or pushed back. The NBA season is suspended, March Madness was canceled, the new James Bond movie was bumped to November. It’s all a very weird and fluid situation and yet, somehow, despite all of the things I’ve typed in this paragraph already, the one I’m having the hardest time wrapping my head around is the one-year delay of Fast and Furious 9.
Universal Studios, the company behind the “Fast & Furious” franchise, made the decision because of the impact that the fast-moving coronavirus is having on the global economy and the distribution landscape. Theaters remain closed in Italy, South Korea and China, where the virus has hit hardest. There’s also a mounting sense that some theaters will close in the U.S. as the outbreak continues to spread. “Fast 9” will now open globally in April 2021 and in the U.S. on April 2.
This is almost certainly the correct decision. There’s no reason to risk it on any front, the threat of spreading the virus to theaters filled with fans of NoS and magnet planes and franchise-long plots that become hilarious when given more than 15 seconds of scrutiny. But there’s one problem. One problem that I will now address via many single sentence all-caps paragraphs.
I HAVE TO WAIT A FULL YEAR TO FIND OUT HOW HAN IS ALIVE?
HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DO THAT?
I WAS ALREADY HAVING TROUBLE WAITING JUST A FEW MORE WEEKS.
JUST TELL ME.
TELL ME HOW HAN IS ALIVE.
I’LL NEVER MAKE IT.
I PROMISE I WON’T TELL ANYONE.
JUST CALL ME ON THE PHONE AND TELL ME.
TELL ME ABOUT HAN.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — Well, this lives in my brain now
The new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm is very good. This was discussed on this website just last week by our own Steven Hyden and requires no further elaboration from me. Instead, I would like to highlight one moment from the most recent episode.
Relevant background: Jon Hamm, as himself, is shadowing Larry for a role that is loosely based on his life. Hamm starts picking up lots of Larry’s little tics and grievances and slowly morphs into a kind of Very Handsome Larry, with the two of them agreeing on things and ganging up on the people around and becoming the Batman and Robin of grievances. At one point, the two combine to annoy Larry’s ex-wife, Cheryl, who says the line I have screencapped above: “It’s actually not funny, Jon Hamm.”
Why is this line so funny to me? I’m honestly asking. Is it the thing where she uses his full name? I think that’s a part of it, probably. Maybe. Whatever it is, the line has somehow unlocked the vault in my brain and climbed inside because I have been mumbling “It’s actually not funny, Jon Hamm” over and over all week, sometimes without even realizing I’m doing it. It’s becoming a problem. It’s only a matter of time before I say it so loud that another person hears me and then I’ll have to frantically explain everything I typed here. That won’t do at all. Please help me.
Also, big shoutout to Jon Hamm for continuing his policy of appearing in very fun and quirky comedies and just being a total goofball. I’m so proud of him. Guy played an iconic role in one of the best television dramas of all time, banked some cash and a long-term voiceover deal with Mercedes, and now he appears in guest roles on wacky comedies like five times a year. 30 Rock, Parks & Rec, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Childrens Hospital, Wet Hot American Summer, and more. And now Curb. He’s pulling a reverse Cranston and I have no choice but to respect it greatly. I hope he shows up in multiple sketches in the second season of I Think You Should Leave. He probably will.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — Finally, a movie starring Johnny Drama and Busta Rhymes
Ladies and gentlemen, I have terrific news: Finally, at long last, someone has decided to make a movie that stars Kevin Dillon and Busta Rhymes. It’s called Red Money and I must see it at once.
Set to begin filming June 2020 in New York City, the film follows Detective Brian Strictland (Dillon) and Detective Clark (Rhymes) as they track down people illegally trying to get rid of their green money after the President of the United States declares that all ‘green money’ must be submitted into the government within one year to be turned into legal ‘red money’; After the year passes, any green money will be useless and hold no value. The demands of the President and government create a non-stop intense crime spree throughout the country.
“A non-stop intense crime spree throughout the country”? And our only hope is Johnny Drama and Busta Rhymes? Oh, baby. Oh baby baby baby. Sign me up. I hope there’s a scene where Busta corners a suspect and pulls a gun and shouts “Put your hands where my eyes can see!” That would be nice. A little treat for Brian. Let’s see if we can get Travolta or Cage in here, too. Or both. One of them can play the President and the other can play a criminal mastermind. Have them swap roles halfway through and never explain it. It’s all right there. It’s so easy. Give the people (just me) what they (I) want.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — Pleep Ploop
The case for washing your hands to the song “Pleep Ploop” from Kroll Show instead of “Happy Birthday”:
- You are supposed to be washing your hands for at least 20-30 seconds multiple times a day right now anyway to prevent the spread of germs
- “Pleep Ploop” is a little less than one minute long
- “Pleep Ploop” is a better song than “Happy Birthday”, which you’d have to sing twice through to get to the desired time
- What kind of lunatic sings “Happy Birthday” a dozen times a day?
- You should not even need an excuse to sing “Pleep Ploop” a lot
- When you are done washing your hands, every time, you get to shout “YOU’RE GOING TO LONDON,” which is a fun thing to say without context and even more fun to say in this situation because it sounds like you did such a good job of washing your hands that you earned the right to proceed to the next level of a talent competition
The case against washing your hands to the song “Pleep Ploop” from Kroll Show instead of “Happy Birthday”:
If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at email@example.com (put “RUNDOWN” in the subject line). I am the first writer to ever answer reader mail in a column. Do not look up this last part.
Who’s got the closest thing to a Mozart-Salieri relationship in entertainment today? Please know that I am asking in the spirit of “talented rivals who hate each other’s guts as far as the plebs know” and not the less-interesting “mutually respectful peers” that Wikipedia says is more likely. I am mostly asking this question to get it out of my head because my friends just give me strange looks when I ask them this and then say I think both of the Gallaghers would describe themselves as Mozart and the other brother as Salieri.
Well, this is just about the best email I’ve gotten since I started this column over a year ago. It’s definitely up there. It’s got everything: weird historical references, a line about the dueling Gallagher brothers, and an excuse for me to post this picture from Fast Five, which I love so much that I have posted it in situations where it isn’t relevant. A lot. But this one is justified. Look.
Do you remember the Great Fast & Furious Cast Feud from a few years ago? I do. I’ll never forget it even if I live to be 800 years old. The Rock went on Instagram and called all of his male co-stars “candy asses.” Tyrese lost his mind and threatened to quit if The Rock returned to the franchise, which was adorable. The Rock then signed up for a spinoff that delayed F9 a year, before a pandemic delayed it another year. Tensions were running very high.
Amid all the turmoil, rumors bubbled up that the largest beef was between the two beefiest figures in the franchise: The Rock and Vin Diesel. This was and is tremendous and, although it has never been confirmed outright, I have chosen to accept it as a proven fact. Vin Diesel and The Rock hate each other. You heard it here first. Well, not first. Not even, like, 50th. But still. You did hear it here. That’s what is important.
As far as which one of these jacked-up action stars is the Mozart or Salieri in this situation… that couldn’t be less important. You can figure it out on your own time if you like. I’ll just be over here tickled to the point of giddy laughter that I just got to compare The Rock and Vin Diesel to classical musicians who lived hundreds of years ago.
Great email, Lee.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
When Conswala — a “no-drama llama” from Pennsylvania — lost her bid to become the Cadbury Bunny last year to Henri, a bulldog from North Carolina, she didn’t let defeat turn her into an Easter basket case.
Little Rundown behind-the-scenes for you. I narrowed this section down to two possible news stories. One was about schoolchildren in China who figured out they could tank the rating of the app that was used to assign them homework while they were quarantined during the virus outbreak and, by doing so, get it pulled from the App Store entirely. The other was about a llama who wants to be the Cadbury Bunny.
There is enough pandemic news. We’re going with the llama. Tell me more about the llama.
Conswala is one of 10 pet finalists in the running to be the next Cadbury Bunny. The winner will be decided by online voting that runs through March 18 on Cadbury’s website. The sweet title comes with $5,000 and the chance to be in a reboot of Cadbury’s classic Easter Bunny commercial, which dates back more than three decades.
I love this. I want the llama to be the bunny. I am focusing all my energy on this. The only thing that could throw a wrench in it all is if there’s, like, also a 24-pound cat named Lunchbox in the running, or a mini-horse named Ricky Bobby. But since that is such a long shot, I th-
Competition this year is as stiff as a box of stale Peeps. Among Conswala’s challengers are Lunchbox, a 24-pound shelter cat from Oklahoma; Lieutenant Dan, a disabled dog from Ohio; Dilly Bar Dabbler, a “diva duck” from Missouri; and Ricky Bobby, the mini horse from Florida.
Dear God. Okay. Okay, fine. I’m throwing all my support behind Lunchbox the cat. I’m going to get really nasty about it on Twitter, too. You guys can have your elderly presidential candidates. I’m here for the literal fat cats.